Heath Town Rangers
The Cottage Ground

Ground No. 199
Visited - Wednesday 28th October 2009
Result - Heath Town Rangers 3-2 Rugby Town
Competition - Midland Floodlit Youth League
Attendance - 19 (h/c)

Situated in the east of Wolverhampton, Heath Town is a somewhat notorious area of the city, rebuilt almost entirely in the 1960s with the type of town planning that is now being just as quickly wiped off the map as it was put there in the first place. High rise flats dominate the skyline, and violence the streets if you believe its reputation, but it has got better recently and in 2006 a club bearing the areas name appeared on the local scene when Heath Town Rangers joined the West Midlands Regional League Division Two. Ground-sharing at nearby Wednesfield, their rise was meteoric, winning promotion in both of their first two seasons to where they sit now in the Premier Division. It was a ground I’d been looking to visit for a while and I had pencilled it in as part of a double header recently with Wolves-Villa kicking off at 12:45, but unfortunately a late finish at Molineux meant that it would have been pushing it too much to get to without missing a good 20 minutes, so instead I decided to wrap it up the following Tuesday, with Wednesfield at home to Continental Star in the Birmingham Floodlit Cup.... or at least according to the Midland Combination website!

As soon as I arrived at the ground that uneasy feeling that something wasn't quite right hit me, with only two of the floodlights turned on to illuminate a small pitch where a junior team were playing and no one on the gate then something was obviously wrong. Game postponed? Away team not turned up? Asking at the clubhouse no one seemed to know, until I finally found out that the Wednesfield game had taken place 24 hours earlier. Quite annoying, but the lady at the bar did add that there was a youth team game on tonight, so after a bit of deliberation I decided to stay for that.

The ground is one I've seen described as awful, but (and perhaps it was due to the cover of darkness!), I thought it was alright, if a little rustic. Going in through a pair of gates bearing the clubs initials, it leads you down a small drive to the near side of the pitch where the only stand at the ground sits, centred on the halfway line. 3 rows deep it has 6 rows of benches (two each on the fairly deep steps), and looks quite a substantial build with a sloping red roof. The other three sides are hard standing with a kids play area behind the far goal and the changing rooms/clubhouse adjacent.

Whilst all the signage and colour points to the owners of the ground, it was Heath Town’s youth team who were playing, with Rugby Town the visitors. The game started at an energetic pace, Heath Town taking the lead in just the third minute after their left winger had been played in on the break, sprinting past a defender before chipping the keeper to make it 1-0, but it was only another four minutes gone before Rugby equalised, thanks to a good solo effort from their number 11. Halfway through the first half there was a first for me... play interrupted by a goat! Who knows where he came from, but it took a few minutes to shepherd him from the pitch before the game resumed with the home side regaining the lead on the half hour mark thanks to their number 8 who curled a corner straight into the net. The second half was interrupted by a nasty injury to a Heath Town player who was elbowed in the head. He did go off, before coming back on and collapsing, the game delayed for 10 minutes whilst he was treated, eventually being taken away in an ambulance, reportedly with concussion. The prolonged added time due to the incident saw a goal a piece for each side, with Rugby finishing the stronger, looking like they might nick a draw, before the ref finally blew for full time at 9:45 with the game finishing 3-2 to the hosts.

After leaving then I made my way home without any trouble, glad to have stayed. Other than an FA Youth Cup semi-final that Wolves were in a few years ago, I've never really paid much attention to this level of football, but it was an entertaining game. The main difference seemed to be that the players lacked the discipline to play as a team compared to adult sides and the ref was notable for the way he lectured the players (he'd have ended up getting a smack in an adult game!) It was a good match though, certainly more interesting than Brocton-Pelsall that I’d seen the night before, and the ground really is the antithesis to the newly developed Silkmore Lane, which is surely the point of groundhopping, to see somewhere a bit different?

Entrance to the Ground

The Clubhouse

The Near End

The Far Side

The Far End

The Near Side

The Main Stand

Goat Ahoy!

The Goat gets substituted!


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